May 2015. Map ref: BY17 089295. The easiest way to climb Mt Dobson's SW ridge was from Mt Hay Station, rising from the east shore of Lake Tekapo. Otherwise it was a long trek from Fairlie along SH8, up to Mt Dobson ski field, then westwards across Mt Dobson summit 2095 m to the SW ridge. Permission must be obtained from Mt Hay Station owners for any climbs or walks on Mt Hay Station, a working sheep station.
From Lake Tekapo town, about 8 kms along Lilybank Rd, I parked my car at Mt Hay Station homestead. I wandered past farm sheds & more housing, then up a steep farm track to the flats, through sheep paddocks to the lower southern slopes of Mt Hay 1174 m. Mt Hay lower slopes, moraine country, must be crossed before reaching Mt Dobson SW ridge across Edward Stream watershed below Mt Hay, Wee McGregor 1146 m, Mt Ardmore 2003 m, Mt Dobson, Mt Maud 1797 m & Mt Edward 1916 m.
I'd wandered into the watershed, which locals call the Old Wool Shed, on another rainy walk up Edward Stream below Mt Edward. This time I headed straight up moraine, hummock country above farm flats till I found a farm track which took me down to Edward Stream watershed. Since my last wander on Mt Hay Station, first winter snows had fallen leaving a couple of cms of patchy snow wherever I wandered. It took me about 1 hour to reach Edward Stream from the homestead.
I crossed Edward Stream & followed a snowy, farm road zig-zagging up Mt Dobson SW ridge to the end of the road. It took me 2 hours hard slog up the snowy road before I reached the end at about 1300 m. The road crossed terraces after Edward Stream then went up a valley with Mt Dobson SW ridge on the left & Mt Edward, then Mt Maud on the right, with Tekapo Saddle 1387 m joining Mt Maud & Mt Dobson at the head of the valley. Several tributary streams fed Edward Stream which braided southwards past Mt Edward through Mt Hay Station & Sawdon Station towards SH 8.
The farm road was easy at first, but after a farm gate it became steeper, as it passed 3 rocky outcrops above. The fourth rocky outcrop was the end of the road on top of the SW ridge, with the SW ridge continuing another 800 vertical metres to Mt Dobson summit. I'd followed sheep dog tracks & sheep tracks on the snowy road, as the autumn muster was completed days ago.
The end of the road was worth the climb for the views: Snowy Mt Edward, Mt Maud, Tekapo Saddle, eastwards behind me. Snowy Mt Dobson above & The Knobbies 2050 m & Mt Ardmore forming a steep valley westwards & below. I didn't stay long as an icy wind blew up the snowy, western valley, numbing my mittened fingers. Across the icy valley I saw another zig-zag, farm road going up Mt Ardmore's southern ridge, which I'd climb another day.
Walk time from / to Mt Hay homestead: 6 hours. Distance 14 km, according to my Topo 50 map. Hill walking fitness, food, water, all weather gear was needed, as the weather changed quickly in the mountains.
Seen from the top of Mt Hay or the top of Wee McGregor, Mt Dobson SW ridge was a rocky ridge with a north facing, warm aspect. Mt Dobson SW ridge stuck out southwards way beyond the southern end of Mt Ardmore. Mt Maud in the E behind loomed above Mt Dobson SW Ridge.
Copyright Mark JS Esslemont.